FOLLANSBEE, W.Va. (WTRF) — The plans to build a medical waste treatment plant in Follansbee were dropped during Monday’s council meeting.
The plant was planned for the former Koppers plant, but leaders of Empire Green Generation have decided to abandon the medical waste plant.
Mayor Dave Velegol Jr. says, “I was told they wanted to do a hard re-take with the city,” he adds that he believes vocal opposition by residents and city officials spurred the reversal.
The company is an affiliate of Empire Diversified Energy, which is pursuing the development of port along the river using $25 million in bonds issued by the West Virginia Development Authority.
Many residents voiced concerns about the emissions and up to 70 tons of medical waste being hauled into the city on a daily basis at a public hearing held on December 14.
City officials are happy with this decision, just last week council agreed to retain the Charleston law firm of Jackson Kelly to advise it in appealing a permit for the facility approved by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Air Quality.
When officials with Empire proposed the plant, they stated the medical waste would be decomposed with extreme heat, through a process called pyrolysis, in a sealed environment, producing a mix of gases that my be re-used in the process, bio-char, a black residue made up of carbon and ashes; and bio-oil, a synthetic fuel.
The state permit that Empire sought out, however, said the facility could release the following potential emissions: particulate matter less than 2.5 microns, 9.5 tons per year; particulate matter less than 10 microns, 18.5 tons per year; particulate matter, 31.6 tons per year; sulfur dioxide, 39 tons per year; oxides of nitrogen, 24 tons per year; carbon monoxide, 99 tons per year; volatile organic compounds, 24 tons per year; and total hazardous air pollutants, 2 tons per year.
Velegol said it was a team effort to make sure it went in the right direction.